Thursday, January 5, 2017

Final Quarterly Check-in, January 3, 2017

Happy New Year!  And Happy Anniversary to Stan and me - married 6 years on New Year's Day.  This post is supposed to be about saying goodbye, as I only originally planned to blog for my year of health, then added quarterly check-ins to keep myself on the straight and narrow for another year.  (You'll see shortly that didn't completely work...)  However, I'll also let you know my ongoing plans for continued good health in the future - perhaps I shouldn't stop posting results.

In two years I seem to have gone full circle in some areas of health, and been more successful in others.  I started my "year of health" in January 2014, mostly to feel better, but also to look better and lose some weight.  Which I did.  I started 2015 at 145 pounds, saw a low of 128 at the end of the summer, and was back to 135 by the end of the year - not too bad - a ten-pound loss was okay with me.  But, today I weigh 144!  Right back where I started  😦  How did that happen?  I think mostly by turning my attention to other things and getting lazy.  I suppose my interest in cake-baking didn't help either.  We watched The Best British Baking Show and I went through a few months of baking cakes and some bread.  Delicious, but with only the two of us here, we ate a lot.

I also had two annoying setbacks.  I fell and broke a bone in the bottom of my foot in June, which put me out of action for the entire summer.  It really showed me how one moment of inattention can be dangerous - I'm very careful now about falling.  I also got a sore throat on the Tuesday of our week's cruise to Mexico - bummer!  It was still fun, but I didn't feel well and the coughing kept me awake at night.  How did that happen when I have been eating pretty well?  I started vitamin C as soon as we got home, but actually got sicker before getting well again.  Clearly my healthy habits still need work!

On the good side, I really have felt great.  No hip pain, which had been getting worse for years, and had caused me to limp a bit when I first stood up.  I credit my physical therapist, but also myself for actually doing the exercises and putting into practice what she taught me.  Today I still clench my glutes when getting up, bending over and walking uphill. 

I also feel stronger overall - credit goes mostly to Stan for dragging me to the gym faithfully, but also myself, for determining to make the most of the time I am there.  I focus on doing each exercise properly and I sweat a lot!  When my foot was healing I started warming up on a machine like a bicycle, only for your arms.  It's harder than it looks!  I'm still using it, and my arms have gotten stronger than ever.  In Mexico I actually wore a sleeveless outfit that I bought many years ago.

In between traveling and being sick we had some great family times.  We celebrated Thanksgiving and Christmas with Tyler, Alethea and Mira and Alethea's family - we're so lucky to have great in-laws!  We also had a pre-Christmas celebration with both Tyler and Melanie and their families, when Melanie and Ben came up from Portland for a weekend.  We caught up, played a fun game (Telestrations) and ate great food, accommodating gluten-free, vegetarian, high fat/low carb and carnivore eating styles.

The Girls - Melanie, Mira, Evie and Alethea

So, how to continue improving my health in the coming year?  First, continue a few things I'm doing right:
  • I love my breakfast scrambles with veggies and they keep me satisfied all morning
  • I'm walking 30 minutes every day, and I mean every day
  • I still eat salad for lunch most of the time
  • Still take the vitamins I wrote about in 2015 and I have added calcium, per my doctor, and vitamin C
  • Stan keeps me faithful at the gym
Plus, shape up the rest of my eating!
  • Somehow bread, toast and English muffins have snuck into my day - quit it!  I'm going to bake paleo and gluten-free muffins.
  • If I buy any bread it will be sprouted grains.  (Did you know Whole Foods has already-sprouted grains and nuts in the bulk foods?  I'm going to learn what to do with those.) 
  • I'm drinking lemon juice with warm water or weak tea first thing in the morning, and only one cup of coffee, after breakfast.  This is actually okay - when I settle in with my laptop, I forget what I'm drinking as long as it's warm.
  • I'm going through my healthy cookbooks trying new recipes and keeping track of the ones I like (even better, the ones Stan likes too). I'll list some books at the end.
  • I plan to learn how to make nut milks and grow sprouts.  Also focusing on healthy ingredients like coconut milk, raw cacao powder and hemp hearts.  (Didn't know where to find hemp hearts and they practically leapt out at me in Whole Foods.  I love that store!)
  • My friend Marcia has been studying Juice Plus+ supplements.  When I see her later this month I want to hear about it.
  • No wine.  It's been two days now - we'll see how that goes.
  • And, okay, no guarantees but when I find or learn something really helpful, I'll write a post to tell you about it.  I'm not sure I have any readers left by now, but the posting helps me remember what I felt was important. 

Here's my new weapon in the fight against aging.  This green smoothie doesn't look too good but was actually quite fruity and enjoyable.  I have since also made a banana-nut smoothie and a chocolate-chia shake.  Yum!

Here are the books I'm using:
  • Everyday Detox, Megan Gilmore (The Detoxinista)
  • The Blender Girl, Tess Masters (just got this from library - lots of good info but a bit hardcore with unfamiliar ingredients)
  • Whole 30, Melissa Hartwig and Dan Hartwig
  • Heal Your Whole Body, Frances Murchinson (not sure about the science in this one, but she has a 12-day program to give your liver a rest, and I think mine needs one)
  • Stan just got Eat Fat Get Thin by Mark Hyman, MD from the library.  He was on TV and while mostly he was advocating eating healthy fat, he also mentioned potato starch as being good for us.  Stan does love his potatoes!
  • The Wahls' Protocol, Terry Wahls, MD  This is the book I trust the most.  Dr. Wahls was in a tilt/recline wheelchair with MS and did much serious research on diet as related to immune disease.  She now rides a bike!  Following her protocol would not be easy, but my goal is to incorporate as much as I can into my everyday habits.  (Tyler, if you see this, I suggest you borrow this book from me.)
 Well, that's it.  Thank you so much for reading and being part of my year (+) of health!  I love talking and learning about being healthy!  (It's so much easier than actually doing what needs to be done...)  If you want to chat and compare ideas or have a suggestion, don't hesitate to contact me!

Here's one reason for caring about this.  I have such a great family and friends, I want to be around and able to enjoy life as long as possible!

Evie with Mira (note the Christmas vest, shirt and gloves!)

My sweetie, Stan, choosing a hat in San José del Cabo

Monday, October 3, 2016

Third Quarterly Check-in, October 1, 2016

Wow, can you see my golf ball?  I chipped it in from 6 feet off the green for a birdie!  (It's stuck between the flag stick and the side of the hole, one of the good pink balls you gave me, Sharon.)  I realize I'm not looking very slim in the photo, but what's that compared to a terrific golf shot?  That's only my first birdie of the year, but with the broken foot bone, I missed most of the season.  I'm glad to say it's better now.

It was a less active than usual three months - broken foot, four appointments' worth of dental work, and a seriously upset stomach - however, it's nice to look back and see I still had a lot of fun.

Since I knew I'd be spending time sitting down, I learned how to knit socks.  Here are my first three efforts, and the beginning of a beautiful 4th pair.  Ben and Melanie gave me that beautiful dark blue yarn for my birthday and I'm finally confident enough to use it.

 The first two and a half pairs were knitted from the top down, then I read that many experienced knitters prefer to knit from the toe up.  I made the second purple sock from the toe up - it's tricky - had to learn several new stitches and a new way of measuring where to start the various parts.  I also learned to get best-quality yarn.  The purple ones are of inexpensive yarn and itchy.  The red and green pair cost a bit more but feel wonderfully silky.  The gray ones are a heavier yarn - quick to knit but I'll only wear them on a very cold day.  I have several books from the library with many techniques and I can't wait to try some pretty patterns!

Melanie and Ben also brought a jigsaw puzzle - fun!  I hadn't done one in very many years.  A warning though - it's addictive!  Once I get started it's hard to quit and do something useful.  When I finished the butterflies I had to quickly go to Amazon and order a few more.

I read a lot of books.  A memorable one:  A Robot in the Garden by Deborah Install - I loved this!  The robot's personality was really lovable.  Also watched some Netflix movies. Two we particularly enjoyed were based on true stories.  Young at Heart is about a singing group in Massachusetts made up of folks in their late 70's, 80's and 90's - a real "feel good" movie.  Bridge of Spies is about the Francis Gary Powers spy incident in the early 1960's and Tom Hanks was great.

Melanie and I have started scheduling a "Girls' Getaway" as an annual weekend for mother and daughter to spend together.  This year we invited Melanie's mother-in-law, Sharon, and had a great time in Manzanita on the Oregon coast.  We mostly walked and talked.  Mel and Sharon were patient with me as I limped along the ocean and through the town.  There were lots of cute shops, and we browsed through them all.  Our rented house had a deck with an ocean view and Sharon made us some delicious vodka collins each evening - a perfect opportunity for relaxation and conversation!

I haven't done too badly with my healthy eating...  with a few exceptions due to my birthday, Tyler's birthday, and other special occasions.  However, wine seems to have crept back in after two months of none at all, and gluten is back - mainly in the form of toast, and crackers with cheese.  How hard it is to be ever vigilant!! 

When I could finally walk without the boot, I went down to our pea patch for the first time in a couple of months.  I was surprised to find a pretty nice tomato harvest, and made a very tasty dinner.

Here are links to the chicken and tomato recipe and also the potato stacks.

We used that potato stack recipe for a big dinner at the end of September.  It was our first turn at hosting our investment club for the monthly dinner and meeting, and we knew we could have a crowd as large as 12 or 14.  It turned out we had 8, and it went well, but we were a bit nervous.  Stan made his delicious duck with poached pears and peas, and I made the potatoes and a lemon tart.  I think everyone enjoyed it, and now we can relax for another year  : )

I forgot to photograph the meal in the rush of serving everyone, so  here's what our leftover dinner looked like the next evening.  Not bad for leftovers!

I'll close with a photo of my two granddaughters, Mira, of course, and her puppy Evie.  Evie joined the family Memorial Day weekend and I was impressed with how well-behaved she was when I visited a couple of weeks ago.  After our first greeting, she didn't jump up and was quietly friendly.  Whenever I gave her my full attention and some petting, she rolled right over for a tummy scratch.  Her big Sissy is taking good care of her and training her well!

Wednesday, July 6, 2016

Second Quarterly Check-in, July 6, 2016

Well, here I am beginning my 70th year and I'm not in good shape at all!  I fell a couple of weeks ago and broke a bone in my foot - how dumb!  I rolled up the rug to clean the kitchen floor, then got distracted and tripped over the rug...  alarming on several levels...  short term memory going fast, and bones ready to break at the slightest stress  : (  There's an important lesson here, about how just a moment of inattention and carelessness can really change your life.  I'm fortunate mine is only changed for a month or so this time, but I can hear my mom saying "Pamela, you must keep your wits about you!"

We've been quite busy these past three months.  Here are some of our activities:

Stan's timeshare has a resort in central Oregon called Eagle Crest, where he used to enjoy spring break with his kids years ago.  He's been suggesting we go down there sometime, and Tyler mentioned that Bend, OR made a short list of smaller towns he and Alethea and Mira might want to relocate to, so we took a road trip to check it out.

This is a place where I could retire!!  I was surprised that I liked it so much!  There are homes, condos and apartments for sale and for rent, and all kinds of activities like hiking, golf, rental bikes and bike trail, horses, swimming, you name it!  There's even a community for over-50 folks with it's own activities.  I don't really expect we'll leave this house and Washington any time soon, but it sure made me think about what I want in my retirement years.  (Number 1 is having the kids close by, so no move as yet...)

 We stopped for dinner with Melanie and Ben in Portland on the way down, and I was invited to return and keep Wilbur company while he healed from a pretty serious surgery to remove a growth from his paw (and also one toe).  So, I headed back to Portland, and Wilbur and I bonded while lounging around in the beautiful weather while Melanie and Ben were at work.  I'm happy to report Wilbur is quite recovered now and ready to play again!

Rooftop dinner with Melanie and Ben

Wilbur's favorite spot (mine, too)
Ben grilled dinner after a long day of work - yum!

(I guess you can see my new wine-free lifestyle didn't carry over far into the 2nd quarter...  I backslipped for a month or two, but now I'm back on track.  Good thing, as now I'm sleeping pretty well in spite of the broken foot!)

I was barely home from Portland when it was time to pack and fly to Chantilly, Virginia for BINC - the Better Investing National Convention.  Since I'm a director of our chapter, they paid my way, and Stan went with me.  It was a great four days of classes and talks, and comparing investing notes with fellow investors around the country.  It motivated us to continue learning and experimenting with our investing.  As Stan said, "We can do better".

On Memorial Day I met my new grandcritter, Evie!!  What a sweetheart!  Mira has wanted a dog for a long time, and her parents found a way to make that happen with a puppy of the breed Lagotto Romagnolo, which doesn't bother Alethea's allergies.  Evie's still a baby, but we can already tell she's going to be cuddly and smart.  I enjoyed watching her gather a couple of toys and take them to her favorite corner - very purposeful!

The first week in June, my friend and co-grandma Charla and I walked eleven miles round trip to the Dungeness Spit lighthouse.   We did great!  Charla was a bit worried about a bad knee, but she got in her groove and walked strong and fast all the way back.  On the other hand, I had no trouble on the way out, but coming back my knee suddenly started hurting and had a fluid-filled lump pop up.  Charla lent me one of her walking sticks and I was fine, though pretty slow.  Anyway, we did it!

Then came the day of the foot!  Ouch!!  (I'm so sorry for people who have broken their hips!  Just a small foot bone hurt quite a bit!)  I didn't know it was broken, so just kept it up with ice for the afternoon, and headed off to Mira's orchestra concert that evening.

So glad I could go!  It was amazing!  I'd love to post a photo of Mira graciously fulfulling the role of concert mistress for her beginning orchestra (first violin!) but her director asked us not to post any photos on public media, and I will obey.  Mira's middle school is known for its music program, and I was surprised to see hundreds of kids in 5 orchestras, as well as several really great soloists.  ("Really great" doesn't even begin to describe how good they are.)  The whole family urged me to get my foot checked out the next day, so I did - good thing.

So, how to entertain myself sitting down for the next 6 weeks??  Reading, of course.  I put some books on hold at the library, so Stan could just zip in and pick them up.  (One was Host by Robin Cook - exciting medical thriller.  I'll get more of his.)  I also finished knitting my first pair of socks, that I had started when I visited the yarn shop in Cannon Beach last winter.  I already have more yarn on the way.

I also signed up for a class on   A terrific website!  There are many classes in all sorts of categories - Life Sciences, Arts and Humanities, Languages, Business and Data Science.  I chose to start with Business Analytics - for example, how Amazon knows which books to show me and how to customize for me  "people who bought this, also bought that".  Also, how Google decides which ads to show at the top of my search, and how much to charge for them.  Lots of math!  Not everyone's cup of tea, I know, but I'm finding it very interesting.  You can audit for free, or pay if you want to take tests and get a certificate.

Finally, my birthday was last weekend and both kids and their families came to help me celebrate.  We had a great time!  It was the first time the two doggie cousins met each other and they played nicely, with Wilbur teaching Evie a few manners.  I'm lucky to have such a nice family.

Photo by son-in-law Ben - I need to master the timer so all can be in pic!

So, with all those activities, did I stay on my eating plan?  Uh, no.  I have gained 4 pounds (make that 5 at press time), with probably more to come, as I won't be exercising for at least another 4 weeks.  I'm already vowing to get out there and walk more, and I'm off the wine and the Starbucks frappuccinos.  Stan and I watched a documentary called Fat and Sick and Nearly Dead, by an Aussie guy who went on a vegetable juice fast while driving around the US telling people about it.  He wound up helping a much fatter, sicker man who then went on to help others.

All that caused me to reconsider juicing.  I had bought a really nice (expensive) juicer a few years ago, shortly before reading that juicing was bad and that we should make smoothies in a high-speed (even more expensive) blender so as to eat the whole fruit.  I never did get the blender, and the juicer went up on the top shelf in the pantry.  Anyway, I'm considering getting it out again.  When I first had it, I had gotten fairly good at making a nice juice mixture that was as nutritious as I could actually tolerate drinking.  One of my books from the library is Kris Carr's Crazy Sexy Juice and it has detailed instructions for a 3-day cleanse (not a juice fast, there's some food, too), and I may give it a try.  Will write about it if I do.

I also can't wait to get walking and hiking again, not to mention golf.  I'm so sorry I spoiled golf for Stan, too, as we had just started our once-a-week round at the community 9-hole course.  When I get back to my activities, I'll be so appreciative of my pain-free mobility!

Look who we ran into on our favorite trail.  Have a great summer!